When people decline tracking cookies or use already cookieless browsers like Safari and Firefox, it can block brands from reaching potential customers who might be interested in seeing their ads.
“Cookie blocking is completely understandable, and I support everyone’s right to make those choices,” said Richard Brandolino, IBM’s global media channel and ad tech lead. “But it limits our ability to communicate with people who want to communicate with us.”
And forget Chrome and the so-called cookieless future: About 40% of the US Internet population already uses a cookieless browser.
In an effort to tackle this addressability challenge, IBM recently ran a test campaign focused on re-targeting B2B possibilities in Safari and iOS, in partnership with MediaMath and alternative identity provider ID5. IBM and MediaMath have been longtime partners, but this test was the first time IBM worked with ID5.
Alt ID test
The testing campaign was part of a larger initiative that IBM was running to promote its cloud and AI products to IT professionals.
Reaching B2B buyers regardless of signal loss has always been difficult, because business professionals like to do their research, the products they are considering are expensive, and purchase decisions are typically made by committee.
It is not an easy task to come across the right business leader. But again, re-targeting anyone in a third-party-cookie-free environment like Safari is no easy task.
IBM advertised on desktop and mobile sites, including iOS and Android, and integrated ID5 into product pages on IBM’s website, said Joe Quaglia, VP of sales and business development at ID5.
It was intended to re-target the B2B audience who had previously visited the IBM site and who indicated an interest in IBM products.
When users visited a product page, they were assigned an anonymous ID 5 user ID, which would then be fed into MediaMath’s DSP, where a signal could be picked up by the SSP to fill out the publisher list. If the same users later visited one of the thousands of publisher sites with ID5’s ID solution, they would be retargeted with an ad for IBM products they had previously viewed.
Retargeted ads – which appeared only on sites whitelisted by IBM – were presented programmatically through MediaMath and using IBM’s dynamic creative optimization engine.
The CPM for cookieless audiences IBM was able to reach through this campaign was 21% lower than the average CPM on Chrome browsers and Android devices.
It is not uncommon for cookieless browsers to generate lower CPMs than Chrome because of the perceived lower value of non-addressable audiences. Advertisers are often hesitant to bid on these audiences, even if they can get them at a lower cost.
But through ID5 integration, IBM was able to retarget 1.4 million unique users it would otherwise have missed.
Adding addressability via alternate IDs added to the cost – cookieless CPMs are typically about 50% lower than in Chrome – although IBM ended up saving money by focusing on Safari.
And the campaign allowed IBM to effectively retarget a hard-to-reach audience.
“The slant for Apple products tends to be for high-income individuals, professionals, and other demographics that align with the business leader” [and] Senior IT executive target audience that IBM has been running for over 100 years in different ways,” Brandolino said.
Better CPMs for cookieless inventory is also good news for publishers, who may have trouble monetizing cookieless audiences.
“If you compare CPM in Safari to Chrome, publishers may think it’s degrading performance,” Quaglia said. “But it’s actually offering more addressable inventory that they’re able to sell, which is a net positive for their business.”
Opt-in or don’t go
But consent should always come first – and every party needs to get it.
The ID5 ID was deployed only to users who opted to view personalized advertising from IBM, and ID5’s publisher partners were also required to obtain consent from their visitors.
Quaglia said that with consent, ID5 is able to do ID reconciliation and create a consistent link between the same user across multiple sites on the open Web.
As part of the ID resolution process users are assigned an anonymous ID that is packaged into the publisher’s bid request and can be picked up by DSPs such as MediaMath, for example.
“Traditionally, we would look for a cookie,” said Jared Lansky, SVP of partnerships at MediaMath. “But when a cookie is not available, we now have an ID5 solution to execute the campaign and optimize it based on its performance.”
Lansky said alternative IDs are typically portrayed as post-third-party-cookie targeting options, but they can have positive implications for publishers and marketers.
“Even today, there are incremental, high-value audiences available, especially within iOS that marketers can take advantage of,” he said. “So you’re reaping the benefits of planning for the future, but still adding to the bottom line of your campaigns.”